Lol, I'm back after more than two years. I got into the mood again after I cleaned up my act. If you're nervous about reading this after my two year hiatus, I've learned from last time and I've written several chapters ahead—50k words total—but I make no promises after that, lol. I much prefer doing that over the anxiety of releasing a chapter immediately upon release.
As to what inspired me to return to this fic, well, I've been writing another, more serious fic and I noticed that switching to writing this fic really soothes my monkey brain and gets me over my writer's block.
My goals for this fic haven't changed; it's going to be a chaotic power fantasy filled with a lot of smut. A serious plot with proper tension and character moments can go shove itself into another fanfic (which is why I'm switching between two fics; in case I get the wrong urges, I won't ruin the power fantasy). Any worldbuilding or hint of a serious plot is only an excuse to add to the harem.
Chapter 1: Overlord Hax
Time was running out.
Rias Gremory sat alone in the Occult Research Club, with her anxious thoughts consuming her. She remembered starting her school life with such optimism. Even with the prospect of her marriage looming on the horizon, she had been sure that everything would work itself out; that's how her life usually went.
But by the third year of her high school life, she had given up on the notion that her situation would be resolved that easily. In that time, she had made moves, scouring across the Underworld and the human magic associations for any signs of advantage—notable magical artefacts, sacred gears, and even the shadiest of potions. But none of her efforts bore significant results; her parents had limited her funds when it came to pursuing such avenues of freedom.
They, and devil society, would only respect natural strength; her best chance would be to declare a Rating Game. As such, the intelligent thing to do would be committing to the most hellish training, fit only for the likes of people like her cousin.
But she couldn't do that to her peerage. Koneko, Akeno, Gasper and Yuuto—after all they've endured, they deserved a chance to have normal, relaxed lives. Her peerage was her family. What happened to them prior she didn't care for, but the moment she had embraced someone as her family, she would storm the heavens to make sure they were happy—however, that didn't stop her from evaluating them.
Akeno was refraining from unlocking her fallen angel side.
Koneko was scared of her hidden potential as a youkai.
Yuuto despised the idea of using holy swords.
Gasper was too powerful for his own good.
As if copying their master, her family really was full of problem children—it was frustrating, but it also made them loveable. This line of thought led her to think about her newest family member, who was the most normal, well-adjusted of the group—ironic, when comparing everyone's public standing.
At the same time, that also meant there was nothing special about him. In ordinary circumstances, she wouldn't have minded—a poor servant was a reflection of a poor king; there were ways to make him stronger. But her deadline was coming soon, and the mystery of Issei's potential had been one of her greatest hopes. That hope had been squashed last night.
It ashamed her to say, but for the first time, she couldn't help but resent Issei a little for failing to meet her unreasonable expectations. It was to that moment of private shame that Sona walked in on.
"Sona? What are you doing here, don't you have…?" Her queries regarding Sona dismissing her presidential duties were quickly dashed upon looking at her rival's expression.
Something was different. It wasn't just because of the unseemly panic on her friend's face. No, something fundamental about Sona had changed.
"Rias, go on Youtube. There's something you need to see." Sona stated simply, refusing to elaborate.
"Something I need to see?" Taking out her phone, though confused, she followed Sona's direction. "How do I even know what to look for? You haven't even told me…" She realised Sona didn't need to.
The home page of the website was dominated by videos referencing the same topic.
The President of China had just died.
Though that wasn't what shocked her. Important human figures died all the time—a large amount of them dying to supernatural causes which were covered up. Sometimes it wasn't even intentional, for humans dying were like ants being stepped on—unworthy of notice for a vast amount of supernatural beings out there.
But intentional or not, supernatural deaths were always covered up. Every major faction leader agreed, not doing so would lead to more trouble than it's worth.
And yet, here she was, looking at dozens of videos with titles and thumbnails mentioning magic, the death of the Chinese President and this 'Overlord Hax' altogether like a crazy conspiracy. Except conspiracies were niche; these videos were catching on fire on the trending list.
"What the hell, Sona?" She would have denied the plausibility of this news if it weren't for the mainstream popularity it had quickly attained.
There was a video uploaded by a reputable news channel; the video had gained hundreds of millions of views already, and it had only been uploaded for 3 hours.
"Shouldn't the Chinese factions have cleaned up this mess before it even spread this much out in the open? How is this possible?"
"They've tried. Everyone's tried. I contacted my sister before I got here. Apparently, even the technicians and memory wipers hired on our side and theirs can't do anything about this. Furthermore, the news stations have officially apologised for the video titles they've put up—they're not the ones who chose it. Something's stopping them from taking this down. So the fact is out, humanity now knows about 'us'." Sona stated matter-of-factly. As such, Sona couldn't properly convey the magnitude of those words.
Before, Rias had thought Sona was unusually panicked. But she now realised that Sona had been exceptionally composed. She hadn't even watched any of the videos yet, and already was she sweating.
The Religious Wars could start all over again, regardless of the wishes of the faction leaders—worship could not be controlled and the Evil Deities would make full use of that; a power shift would inevitably occur. Her mind was running several miles a second, but before she could delve into madness, Sona snapped her out of her panic.
"But that's not the most important issue." What? There was nothing worse that she could possibly imagine. "Watch the video, Rias." Sona didn't need to specify which one. Despite how popular all these videos were, there was one that had gained far more attention than the rest at more than a billion views.
'My Gift to this Boring World. Sincerely, Your New Overlord, Hax.'
The thumbnail of this video contained a heavily armoured figure, surrounded by purple flames, looking as if they had come straight out of one of those western fantasy MMORPGs. Their face was fully covered by a horned helmet.
Behind him, President Xiao was standing there, with two gaping holes in his chest and down below. Yet he was still conscious? No, she looked into the human's cloudy eyes. Was it necromancy?
Nervously pressing on the video link, as if realising deep down that there wouldn't be any going back, she watched as this 'Hax'—she wouldn't call him by his pretentious title—introduced himself to the camera nonchalantly, as the West Building behind him burned and the Chinese President ignored it in favour of moaning dumbly, before revealing the world's greatest secret without a second thought.
"To the billions of plebs watching around the world, if you want to know how I've done all of this, it's very simple—magic, gods, devils, angels, the whole supernatural shebang, it's all real!" The armoured man declared nonchalantly.
Rias' palms were already covering her head.
XXXXX-Sometime after the end of the prologue; but before Rias' viewing of the video-XXXXX
There was one fact about China's government that set it above the other governments in the world, with the exception of India.
It was fully aware of and cooperative with its residential supernatural superpowers; and it was very good at keeping this fact a secret from the other non-magic nations.
This was due to a Chinese leader ages past attaining the honour and the revelations required to ascend to the divine realm. Though their body had passed on to consort with China's gods—now only myths to the majority of China's oblivious and obedient non-magical populace—their teachings, and wisdom occasionally sent down from the heavens, remained to influence generations of key figures who would be closely associated to the political landscape.
As their government rose in power, they would slowly build and foster an internal organisation unknown to the general populace which would be called the Liyue Qixing. This organisation, through magical means, would soon come to dominate and oversee all aspects of the modern nation of China: agriculture, culture, commerce, information technology, information magic, military developments and governance.
Whilst most of the world believed China's suppression of information was due to their desire to keep eyes off their actions towards Hong Kong or Taiwan; or to prevent its citizens from developing a tendency to question the government, these reasons were only happy coincidences. With a population north of a billion people and a nation that was rapidly prospering due to its unseen advantages, China had an urgent need to coalesce and streamline the many branches of superpowers growing randomly all over its land.
To this end, the Tianquan of the Qixing, the lynchpin of China's laws, and the President of China, essentially the representative of China's non-magical citizens, would often meet to discuss the direction in which the nation should progress—so long as their decisions did not conflict with the Heavenly Mandates.
Such a meeting was now taking place in the Garden of Abundant Beneficence within Zhongnanhai, the President's headquarters. Over cups of tea, an obese man was flamboyantly bragging about his recent accomplishments, whilst trying and failing to hide his visible nervousness, in front of a seated, elegantly-dressed white-haired woman who simply smiled and occasionally praised the man.
The man's nervousness was greater than usual, for the topic of conversation was very different from the norm.
"Uncle Xiao, please, you must follow our directives for your own safety." Ningguang, the Tianquan, had been repeatedly requesting President Xiao to stay inside the Jade Chamber given the latest forecasts from her advisors.
"Hah, you worry too much, Ningguang. Who would dare intrude upon this Daddy's kingdom and assassinate the heaven's chosen?" She internally sighed at his response. Xiao still believed himself to be beloved by the Gods. Surrounded by sycophants and taking credit for China's explosive prosperity—when in truth, it was only because his appointment coincided with her management—his mind, which wasn't that impressive to begin with—hence his popularity with his party—had been muddled by delusions of grandeur. But no human, much less an ordinary human, would ever truly rank amongst the Gods' favoured.
If she had her way and were she a bit younger, she would've attempted to mind-control him into obedience. But one of the Heavenly Mandates had declared that the Qixing, contrary to its methodology with the general populace, could only guide its leaders, not control them.
'If humanity's best cannot competently handle power, then they will never reach the heavens.'
When she was but a mere novice trader dabbling in the arcane arts, she could not understand that approach, not when buffoons like Xiao were appointed leaders and couldn't possibly represent humanity's best. But as she ascended in power, and grew her own ambitions, she understood. If she could freely toy with Xiao, what was stopping the Gods from toying with her ambitions? Her dreams of humanity overthrowing and surpassing the Gods, surely the Gods would be easily aware of them. And yet they had done nothing to squash her.
But the answer was simple: those who had reached or would reach the peak did not trouble themselves with those below them.
So despite Xiao's obstinacy, mostly driven by fear of giving her any more power than she was allowed, and his arrogance, she was not frustrated at all—she was mostly amused. In this world, to thrive, one must learn to accept and grow beyond the weaknesses of others.
"Uncle Xiao, this protection is not a precaution or an overreaction. Our Sages were the ones who divined your possible fate—they do not waste their energy for matters of little importance." What was left unsaid, and known only by Ningguang, was that the Earthly Sages had little regard for Xiao. In the grand scheme of things, Xiao's life had no importance. This would only mean that the assailant within their vision was of note—especially since they had urgently delivered this divination within hours; those old crones usually waited months for her to come of her own volition or never told her at all, citing that her involvement would be useless.
At the mention of the Sages, Xiao swallowed his saliva nervously. His delusions had yet to supersede the authenticity of their powers, which had been built by thousands of years of counselling. Taking the matter more seriously, he simply offered an alternative, "Then you should send the Old Guard to protect me. They will be sufficient; the use of the Jade Chamber will inconvenience us both."
"Uncle Xiao," Tutting at his suggestion, she elaborated. "If this matter could be resolved by mere cultivators, do you truly think I would have brought up my chamber, the final resort?"
Shaking his head, Xiao replied, confused. "But if this assassin was this formidable, shouldn't the Gods have intervened already?" His delusions were kicking in again.
Knowing that it would be more trouble than it was worth to crush those delusions, she started fabricating an ego-soothing reason for the Gods' lack of care.
"The Gods of the other Pantheons, and certain old enemies, have recently been kicking up a fuss, jealous of our nation's great progress. Our beloved deities are busy holding them at bay, to make sure that your reign continues as smoothly as possible." Taking her fan off the table with her right hand, spreading it, she used it to cover her mouth as her eyes smiled at him. "They have placed a great deal of faith in you, it wouldn't do for—"
"… This is really boring, and unnecessary talk for a side character whose about to be offed within the hour." The sudden, unexpected intrusion during her private conversation broke even her famous composure. Forgetting her words, her head snapped to the right.
An armoured man was sitting at their table, between her and Xiao. Deep in the heart of China's power, the man was leisurely resting his head and arms on the table as if he owned it—she could see his relaxed smile, as his mouth and eyes were the only parts of his body unarmoured.
It was evident that he had been next to them for quite a while. How had she not noticed him before? How had the sensors not warned her?
But despite the intruder's unexpected proximity, she did not retreat. The same could not be said for Xiao as he fumbled backwards off his chair and crawled away without dignity, yelling a jargon of unrecognisable words in his panic.
As soon as he gained a reasonable distance away this stranger, Xiao addressed her.
"Ningguang, kill him!" He growled.
"You know, I've been thinking long and hard about the next moves I should make." The stranger didn't even seem to care that someone had demanded his death; he didn't even seem to want to carry through his threat. He simply started ranting.
"With powers like mine, it should be my right—no, my duty—to mess with the world as I see fit. But what does it mean to be 'interesting' in this world?" Though the man had asked her a question, he did not seem to want a response—seemingly in the midst of answering it himself. So she simply hid her expression behind her fan, thinking about her own course of action.
"Ningguang, I ordered you to—?!" Xiao stopped abruptly midway, holding his throat. He was not suffocating, but no matter hard he tried, he could not muster up a sound. The stranger had simply clicked his fingers, and Xiao had fallen under his spell. Ningguang didn't bother helping Xiao; she wanted to know where this stranger was going with his rant.
"I could hang out with the main cast after fabricating a random origin and show off my skills. But to what end? To beat up a yellow bird, then a black bird and then the next big bad guy on and on until we started going full Dragon Ball Super? And all that just to get into peoples' pants?"
The man was spouting nonsense. Even in the midst of enemy territory, he seemed to be stuck in a wavelength known only to him. It was a pattern of behaviour she recognised—only from foreign gods; only from the truly powerful. Her instinct would not allow her to deride him as a deluded fool, or to take up rash actions against him.
"I'm getting a headache just thinking about it. All that effort; so many episodes of repetitive content about grinding power and beating up bigger bad guys, just to serve as flimsy excuses for horny degenerates like myself. I can smell the shit pacing from a mile away; 30 episodes in—and that's assuming I even make it that far—and my story would be still going nowhere; my 'viewers' would be bored; hell, I'd be bored—I'd probably get this system to figure out some convoluted way to get me to off myself just so that I'd have an excuse to reset my story." Blatantly ignoring her and Xiao, the man took Xiao's unfinished cup of tea and began drinking from it. After finishing it, he sighed exaggeratedly.
Taking the teapot with her right hand, she decided to fill his cup again. Unlike her guests, it would not do for her to forget one's manners. As the tea poured into his cup, the man's eyes had an amused glint as he nodded appreciatively. See?
"But you know what the worst thing is? After what I saw last night, I've realised I'm no better. Despite all the grandiose shit I want to do, and all the crazy places I want to go, my cock takes precedence." Oh my god; she wanted to ignore her instinct—this man might be an idiot, after all. "But you know what? I've realised, I can have my cake and eat it too."
Clapping his hands, he would make a declaration that would only reaffirm the decision within her mind.
"I can star in a properly paced story that's part power fantasy and part porno. But how do I do that?"
He pointed at her and then he pointed at Xiao, who was utterly petrified—his still state too unnatural just to be due to fear; it seemed the intruder had placed another spell on the president. Calling for the guards would be useless.
"First, I establish a long-term goal. It must be uncompromising and it must be appealing enough in achievability and grandeur that I wouldn't allow my short-term vices to sabotage it." Closing his eyes, he seemed to search for one. It was strange—for someone like her, who had formed her own ambitions since childhood, and had merely evolved it through time—the man was talking as if he were a newborn, as if he had never had a thought before this moment.
"Yes, yes, that'd do. Simple, I've decided that I'm going to break this system." She wanted to snort in ridiculing amusement—she knew he was mentioning the gods; if only it were that simple. But she didn't. For when the man's eyes opened again, she saw the eyes of a dragon.
What was this thing? She could feel the sudden sweat running down the back of her neck.
She had likened him earlier to a foreign deity. But simply from seeing his eyes alone, something primal deep inside her immediately surmised: this thing may be worse than a god.
"And the way to do that…" The man chuckled as he rubbed his chin. Out of thin air, a few vials dropping onto the table, unnaturally staying upright. "Yes, yes, that'd be the perfect way." The man's chuckle grew all the more sinister before he continued outlining his 'plan', refusing to elaborate on this 'way'.
"Second, I must dictate what happens in my story, not the other way around. If I want to fulfil a power fantasy, there's more ways to do that than just waiting to react to and then beating up the next bad guy. If I want some smut moments, I don't have to beat up Riser, I don't have to get to some arbitrary power level or progression point in my storyline—it's called seduction." Riser, the name sounded familiar; but at the same time, it wouldn't be the name of a significant power player, or else she would know. She would be investigating later; and once again noticing the amused glint in the man's eyes, it was clear that he had intentionally left that breadcrumb.
"Third, I expand my horizons. Seriously, in a world full of mysteries and mythological beings, I'm not going to have my world view narrowed to just a high school. I mean those girls are hot—but I can seduce them at the same time as my plans go underway." With that last statement, she now understood why he was here—but there was that manner of speaking again, as if the man had only just come into his powers… or perhaps, he was talking to something or someone unknown to her? Sensing that his rant was finished or nearly finished, she began voicing her own thoughts—whilst attempting to decipher the nonsense he had just spewed.
"Is that why you've come to me?" She asked.
The man smiled, noting her lessened fear—which did not mean she was underestimating or letting her guard down around him. "I think I like you. You're a pragmatic woman, aren't you?" At that observation, she simply scoffed.
"And I know I hate beings like you. The feelings, thoughts and achievements of those you consider lesser might as well be non-existent." Despite maintaining her polite smile, she knew she couldn't stop her eyes from glaring at him, which only caused the man to chuckle, as if proving her point. "It doesn't matter if thousands of years of history or millions of lives are involved; your whims take precedence, regardless of what you destroy."
Humanity thrived on order, it thrived on contracts, and it thrived on the idea of paving its own path towards a better, foreseeable tomorrow. She despised the idea that there were beings out there that could stomp on that notion on a simple whim, whilst offering nothing in return. Such beings, no matter how powerful, had no value in this world.
"If you are not one, you are certainly no better than the gods you seek to destroy. But you haven't killed me, yet, which means you want something. Which means business; I can set my feelings aside for business; for here in China, we can contract with even dogs, so long as it is profitable." At that last remark, she closed her fan and smacked it upon her left palm.
"So get to the point, stop wasting my time." At her demand, the man simply pushed one of his vials toward her.
"In that case, would your opinion of me change if I provided the solution to your woes?" There it was—the crones had hinted this. She had already surmised that this man was the one they had envisioned—the bringer of 'great and terrible change'. Taking up the bottle and inspecting it, she simply saw a red liquid. It didn't exude a significant aura, unlike the divine relics that had come into her collection.
"And what is this supposed to be? How would this help, assuming you do know my heart's desire?"
"You don't hate people like us. You're jealous. You want humanity to achieve heights that surpass the gods, no?" At his observation, she didn't respond or care that Xiao was suddenly looking at her, betrayal and blasphemy on the tip of his silenced tongue. She simply sipped her tea, whilst keeping her eyes on the vial within her other hand, waiting for him to continue.
"… I can agree with that ideal." She smiled at that, hiding it behind her cup—now they were getting somewhere—good business was founded on mutual need. "A world where only the few can be strong enough to decide everyone's fate—how boringly one-dimensional; with a story like that, everyone except me and the next villain of the month eventually becomes redundant." Though it seemed this stranger's goals only matched hers incidentally from another perspective.
Pointing at the vial within her hands, he elaborated. "So, I've made my decision. I'm going to put people's fates back into their hands, starting with my items."
"… Do you think you're the first person to say that their creations could revolutionize the supernatural order? And do you know how many deities have offered their promises of power, only for there to be a terrible price to pay?" She rebutted. If power so great could be so easily offered, her blasphemous dreams wouldn't have been so desperate.
At her suspicion, the man smiled and simply stood up. He didn't explain himself; he only turned around and began walking towards Xiao.
Sensing something was wrong, she stood up, agitated, and shouted. "Where are you going? You haven't—," The man looked back towards her and replied, cutting off her query.
"I only said I was going to put your fate back into your hands. I'm not your mother. I'm not going to spoon-feed it to you; and I'm not going to waste my time convincing you why you need to eat your vegetables. Whatever you decide to do with the sample I gave you, that's on you. Because at the end of the day, I don't need you—I can find someone else to toy with." He concluded, before nearing Xiao. Sensing the sudden spike of fear from Xiao, who was already sufficiently frightened, she knew that
After that entire spiel, the mere attempt of her doing her due diligence was enough to offset him. This man wasn't a business partner, he was simply a child.
Irritating, how utterly irritating. Not even the gods had vexed her so, for the most they had ever done to her was ignore her.
But she couldn't let him go. The crones had implied it, but in this moment, she could instinctually feel it. If she allowed him to go, she would be missing out on a contract of a lifetime. And the next time she saw him or his actions in play, she would be on the outside looking in.
That would be unacceptable.
"Wait!" She requested, and the man stopped. He did not look at her; his hand stayed hovering over Xiao's shaking body. "Please, give me a day to confirm the effectiveness of your product. You can stay and make full use of the Jade Palace while you wait, every one of your needs will be—"
"No." He replied. With his back still turned to her, he continued his unreasonable train of thought, with a light-hearted, childish tone as if he wanted to tease her. "I'm thinking I want an answer now. Honestly, if it takes that long for you to make such an easy decision, how on earth are you supposed to be competent enough to overthrow your gods?"
She gritted her teeth, seeing red. For the first time in a long time, not since her days as a young merchant, she broke her façade of calm composure and exploded at the sheer gall of this monster.
"How dare you!?" She shouted. "Self-centred monsters like you would never understand how it feels to be human! You would never understand the necessity of tip-toeing every action around reckless 'children' like you—because our hopes, our dreams and our safety are mere playthings for fools who do nothing, who serve nothing, who believe in nothing but flexing their useless muscles because they're compensating for how sinfully tiny their minds are."
In her rage, she couldn't control her grip. She felt a slight sting in her palm, a sign that she had cracked the vial given to her. But she didn't care—all her focus was on the monster in front of her.
"You say you understand my desires? That I am simply jealous? Fool, I want to end this supernatural age because humanity's potential would be wasted trying to imitate or please you monsters. My desire is fuelled by disgust!"
Power was not capability. If the gods, or the devils, or the angels, or any other supernatural race were anywhere near as capable as their powers would allow, they would already be roaming the stars, they would already be creating worshipful empires that span the galaxy.
"How have the gods evolved since their creation, since the first days of their religious empires? They haven't! Instead, they've devolved to the point where they rely on us! The irony! Because—even without some ill-conceived destiny to have the powers to shape the Earth—with nothing but scraps, with nothing but our imagination and knowledge—that is undoubtedly lesser than theirs, which only serves my points—we've created a civilisation that is great and self-reliant. Despite how desperately you monsters pretend not to care about us, you imitate us and toy with us because you're the ones jealous of us!"
At that declaration, she raised the cracked, leaking vial in her hands and tossed it the ground, shattering it completely. The promise of power within them was forever lost to her, but she would not lose her dignity over it. No, power for the sake of power only addled the mind—until you were nothing but a mindless husk so insatiable for it and uncaring for anything else that you would only either destroy everything or do nothing and languish in complacency.
"So, I've changed my mind." She threw his words right back at him. "I will not beg you for your illusions; I was doing splendidly before you. So get out, or on my life, I'll force you to submit!"
With her threat, she magically summoned dozens of gems that would explode upon impact. It would be enough to utterly destroy the compound they were in. She knew it would not be enough to kill this man, but she didn't need to, she only wanted to alert her surroundings.
A tense silence seemed to take over the gardens.
And then she saw the stranger shake.
And then he went into full blown laughter. It sent chills down Ningguang's spine; it was undoubtedly the laugh of a full-blown maniac.
Eventually, the laughter died down, and with the man still clutching his stomach, he turned around to look at her—a teasing smile on his masked face.
"Alright, I'll throw you a bone. There's a faster way to see proof that I'm not just talk. Let me show you." She bristled. All of that reluctance on his part earlier, it was just a ruse to get a reaction out of her.
"[Modify Skill]," She heard him whisper, before he abruptly yelled to seemingly no one. "Oh shut it, if you didn't want me changing your settings, you shouldn't have chosen a hacker and then allowed him to retain to those skills conceptually, dumbass! Don't deny it; it's like you wanted me to go AWOL."
He pointed towards her, and whispered, "[Share Observe], temporarily."
Ningguang's perception of the world changed.
Main Class: Sorcerer LVL 47
Rank: 2 Star; Lord of the White Lotus Sect
She was left stunned as a digital menu popped up in front of her eyes. It was like the user interface of those games China's children were so addicted to. It showed her numbers; it showed her information—all of her powers, all of the skills she had attained, her entire history.
He knew. She looked at him dreadfully. If he could see the things she could see now, then he really did know the entirety of her plans for revolution.
His hungry smile confirmed her fears. And then she saw parts of his information.
The Broken Overlord of Hacks
Race: Infant Red Dragon Emperor of Domination
Disposition: Confident in his ability to utterly break this world; wants to toy with his 'treasures'
She stilled completely. It didn't matter if she only saw level 21; it didn't matter if she didn't have the full context behind the perception this 'Lex' had of this world. The only thing that truly mattered was this man's race.
She was standing in front of the current wielder of the Boosted Gear.
"You're wrong about that, Ningguang." As if reading her mind, Lex corrected her, "I'm not the current host of the Red Dragon Emperor. I am the Red Dragon Emperor!"
His next words seemed to boom, reaching deep inside her soul.
Oh human, Oh fragile human
It was three strange words, unknown to the human tongue. Yet somehow, she still understood the meaning of those words.
Rid your mind of weakness.
Free your spirit from its chains.
The first word was sufficient to provoke something within her.
She felt something within her soul and mind morph; she breathed deeply, overwhelmed. For the first time, she understood what it truly meant to feel free. It was as if a large mental barrier inside her had finally been broken.
So that you may soar and destroy the very heavens!
She could ascend. She could achieve anything. For she had heard the language of the strong; the language of dragons.
It was as if thunder had rocked the world as she listened to the final word, and experienced the latent power of the Heavenly Dragon. Her eyes widened, she saw the numbers within her menu change, reflecting her sudden internal growth—and the growth of two things she had long given up on cultivating.
Race: Enlightened Human
Rank: 3 Star; Lord of the White Lotus Sect
[Jade Sage Body] Special Physique has reached a higher level.
[Evil Earth God's Profound Veins] have reached a higher level.
So long, it had been so long since she had last felt this sense of improvement. Even with the vast amount of resources at her disposal, it was not enough to meet her body's demands.
Her level was 'lower', but everything else had improved, she knew it instinctually. She was drunk with power—she was mad to think she could take on the gods now, but she couldn't help it. She was free!
"Proof enough for you?" Lex's amused question snapped her out of her silent craze, cooling her.
She wanted to ask what this was—these screens; the way he talked, as if he was an actor in the production of a movie; that strange 'shout' that had changed her spirit. But one question superseded everything else.
"Why would you help me? How do you benefit from boosting my abilities, and humanity's?" She had now seen that he could aid one person, but she was still reluctant to believe the idea that his powers could extend to an entire race.
The man laughed hysterically, she didn't think her question was that amusing, until he responded. "My reason for helping is simple, because the best, most broken version of you wouldn't be able to touch the worst version of me. But it would be enough to upstage your pantheon. That would be an amusing show."
Unrivalled arrogance, she noted, it was the trademark of those who stood atop this world. "So, we'd be swapping several almighty, local deities for one foreigner?" Lex scoffed.
"I don't need scrubs to worship me—they'll do that themselves. I'll be too busy having fun."
"And you're powerful enough to shake this world? When even the original Red Dragon Emperor failed?" She asked. They both knew she was referring to the alliance between God, devils and fallen angels to kill and seal the two Heavenly Dragons. When someone fell out of line, the powers of this world would come together to crush it.
Only entities like the Great Red were immune to this unwritten rule of life.
But this man didn't seem to be worried about that. In fact, he smiled aggressively, as if she had just challenged him.
"Would you like to find out? In the next 24 hours, without even a single fight, I could show you just how easily this world can be shaken." It was an arrogant declaration. But after her mind had been opened, she was beginning to believe in this man's authenticity.
She began to nod, but the man held up a finger and waved it, tutting at her.
"But we're forgetting something, aren't we?" Lex grabbed President Xiao by the neck and threw him towards Ningguang, landing just right in front of her.
"The first showcase was a freebie." Lex stated, before giving his ultimatum, "If you're going to ask me to provide a demonstration in front of the entire world, I'm going to be asking for a fee."
He pointed towards Xiao, who was still trembling and silenced.
"Kill him, only then will we be partners in crime."
He clicked his fingers, a pressure seemed to lift, and Xiao clutched his throat briefly, before letting out a voice. It seemed Lex had lifted his spell.
She did not see the point in that. Perhaps Lex wanted to drag the cruelty of this moment by forcing her to be tortured by this buffoon's voice one last time. But she had already made her decision.
Two bright magical stones appeared above her.
She would savour the look of utter shock and fear on Xiao's face—and though it was disgusting, the sight of his piss drenching the floor, too.
"Ningguang, you… you… I am the god's—"
Her attack pierced Xiao's chest and balls. It did not kill him. Helpless, and near lifeless, Xiao collapsed back onto the floor in his own pool of blood. She stood over him and hunched over. She had been abandoning composure so much in the last hour, what was one more act of indulgence?
"The gods have never cared about you. And they won't care about what I've done to you." She softly bragged, smiling at the prospect of being freed of this imbecile. She wanted her smile to be the last thing he remembered when he found himself in hell.
"Damn, woman. I thought you'd at least hesitate a bit, you know, long enough so that I could hear him beg."
"Then you don't know me nearly as well as you think you do." Lex smiled wryly at that. "I have only questioned your effectiveness, not your trustworthiness. You have already shown me that you can 'boost' one person. The possibility to see that ability extend to billions of lives merely for Xiao's life, I consider that a bargain; I'd be a fool to hesitate."
His wry smile grew wider.
'Oh? And what if I lied? What if I decided to change my mind at the last second, and left you to dry?" He questioned, and she sighed. She suspected he already knew her stance; he was just fishing for it.
"You seem to be misjudging things. I remember saying 'merely for Xiao's life'. Let me elaborate—in the event that you were to be offering nothing but a scam, I would lose nothing, nothing but my time. Do you understand what I'm saying now? I'm saying that the value of Xiao's life is less than dirt, not even a single yuan; in fact, losing it would be a net positive. As such, the only way you could scam me is if you killed me, in which case, I would no longer be able to care that you scammed me."
The official role of the Tianquan was only to consult China's human leader. There was nothing that expressly stated that she was required to protect them. Killing them was something that could land her in trouble, but the act could be swept under the rug. That was how little Xiao's life mattered.
Lex laughed at that, almost as if he were impressed. But she didn't have time for his amusement, so she interrupted him.
"But if you do successfully shake this world, I can't afford for you to be here in the aftermath. And if that's the case, how will I contact you to inform you of my verdict?" She asked.
"Hmm, good point. Then perhaps I should employ a secret emissary to act as the liaison between us. Let me think, who would be the best choice out of my roster?" Rubbing his chin for a few seconds, an answer soon came to Lex as he clicked his fingers and smiled cheekily.
"Yes, yes, he'd be appropriate." She could sense the sarcasm, and that she wouldn't like what was about to come next.
"Just give me a contact detail or an address, there's no—" Her request was interrupted by a wave of power.
"[Summon Servant], Ultron."
At that command, she saw a portal appear next to Lex, and a tall, humanoid machine soon popped out of it. It stood at an intimidating seven foot, seven inch height; its red eyes only added to the menace it exuded.
The Perfectly Sane Peacekeeper
Race: Artificial Intelligence
Rank: 5 Star; Genocidal Murder Machine
Disposition: Utter loathing for your inadequacies; hypocritical, nonsensical subservience towards Lex
"I detect disturbances to the peace of your empire, Master Lex." The machine's voice was ominous. It raised its hand, a cannon embedded within its palm, not at Xiao's remains, but at her. "I shall remove the stain immediately." Her instincts flared up far too slowly, she wouldn't have time to dodge.
"[Modify Settings]!" Lex declared, stopping his murder machine. It seemed to enter stasis.
"I'm still new to this, so let's see. Set [Violent, Hypocritical Peacekeeper] to [Cliché, All-knowing Butler] archetype. Tone back aggro parameters from [Unprovoked Slaughter] to [Calculated Dissection]. Change behaviour protocols from dry, logical evil to dry sarcastic humour. Maintain loyalty parameters with me—illogical and convoluted—but add Ningguang as a secondary master. There, done."
At that declaration, the machine shook slightly, indicating the return of its ability to move. But it did not fire at her. It considered her for a few tense seconds, and then it lowered its arm.
"I see. I understand your plans now, Master Lex… Very well, I shall tolerate this insect if it best serves the fulfilment of your grand designs. Whilst you finalise the terms of your meeting with this worm, what shall I do in the meantime?" Ignoring her, and degrading her, it looked towards its masters and kneeled on one foot, the weight of its metallic body cracking the stone floor, waiting for its master's response.
Lex pointed to Xiao. "Take this man's body out to the front; incapacitate any civilians who get in your way or will get in my way. Set up social media accounts for me; make sure to protect them against the efforts of any authorities who wish to silence me. I'll make my declaration to this world soon. After that, assist Ningguang in her plans and gather information for me."
The machine bowed and then stood up to leave, dragging Xiao's corpse away by the foot. Despite the fact that she had heard Lex say it was to assist her, she knew, it would not be controlled by her. How troublesome, perhaps more so than it was worth.
She couldn't sense any magical energy from it but she didn't need numbers to tell her the truth—that machine was unfathomably dangerous, and not just in terms of raw power.
Her musings were interrupted by Lex's voice.
"Well, I'm waiting."
Turning back to him, she saw him extend his right hand. It was waiting for hers. She raised her eyebrows, and he smiled toothily, as if sensing her wariness.
"Why hesitate now? If you shake my hand, I will honour our arrangement. It is only polite."
"… You never answered my earlier question directly. Why did you come to me?"
"Did you not start your career as a street merchant?" She did not answer that.
"When you make your living on the streets, you do not have the luxury of picking and choosing your clients. The only that matters is getting yourself off the streets, and only profit can achieve that. Profit forgives all; that is why the best merchants savagely dash towards profit, regardless of the risks involved. Therefore, you do not need to know why I chose you; only that I am offering you profit."
She scoffed at his explanation.
"That is only partially true. It is also a required skill for a proper merchant, or any reasonable, self-sufficient living being, to know when something is too good to be true. To not question fortune is to die in a ditch of your own making." Lex laughed at that.
"But the mentality of a reasonable human being is not enough. I teased you earlier because of that. You and I have decided to hunt gods. When a hunter is seeking prey greater than themself, they cannot afford to be reasonable, they cannot afford to be cautious."
He pointed a left finger at his head.
"They must act insanely. They must act outside their comfort zone. To kill a predator, you must first kill yourself; kill your own limitations, so that you can chase a predator as an equal, regardless of what reality dictates. Only with that mindset will opportunity unseen by rational scrubs present itself to you."
Mimicking a gun, his finger flicked up and down next to his head. Bang.
"That is what it takes to evolve."
This man was insane, and powerful. Such a combination would ensure that the wrath of the world would soon crush him. Despite all he had shown, and had offered, Lex might very well be dead in the next 24 hours.
But as she extended her own hand, she couldn't but feel that this partnership would last for a very long time.
Perhaps that was why, in the last moment—despite her anger-induced bravado, despite already killing Xiao—she hesitated just for a brief second. She was afraid not of failure, or death, or his reasons, but of how far done the hole this Lex would drag her.
"… I agree to this partnership… Take care of me from now on."
Nonetheless, her hand touched his, gripping it tightly. The ambition that had driven her on since her days as a street urchin would always win out; he was right, she didn't care to know his reason, yet. That could come later, if he survived long enough.
"Yes. I will." Leaning forward, he husked in her ear, and she couldn't help but shiver. As if she had just made a deal with the devil.
And as if he was toying with her soul—the prize for his bargain—in his fingers, next to her ear, he whispered.
"For perhaps being dazzled by ambitions like yours is why predators allow themselves to show weakness in front of their prey. If you continue to hone it, one day, you might grow into a monster too beautiful for me to resist. On that day, I'll take you for myself; or you'll ensnare me into your trap, and be rid of me." He laughed. "I'm fine with either scenario."
She scrunched her nose up in disgust. She would not be flustered like a befuddled maiden.
If that was his game, she would play it and win, intact.
He seemed to recognise her intent and backed off, smiling playfully as he turned around to follow in his subordinate's footsteps.
"Well, good luck in the aftermath. But in the meantime, find a good place to spectate. I'll put on a good show."
With that, he left the gardens, leaving her to her thoughts.
So that was what it was like to have the attention of a powerful being. That sense of utter helplessness as she could do nought but stay still whilst the world changed around her, as if she were in the eye of a typhoon, it was a novel feeling. But she didn't hate it.
She remembered the words she had yelled earlier in her moment of rage—she had overestimated her discipline. She didn't hate gods because they were strong, or because they were arrogant, or because they toyed with those weaker than them—that was the right of the powerful, just as she had manipulated more than a billion human lives. No, she hated the gods because they were useless in their inactivity.
So long as a being provided value, no matter how destructive or egomaniacal they were, she could at least tolerate their existence.
With that mindset set in stone, she began the arrangements to clean up this mess and set up a vantage point to properly evaluate the worth of this Lex's next actions.
It was ironic; humans would have easily been able to pinpoint the blame for what had occurred today. But the gods were so far above the clouds that even if they started caring to look into this mess, they wouldn't think of the simplest solution: asking a human to find the truth. And by the slim chance they did change their ways, traces of her involvement would have already disappeared.
Rias watched helplessly as this Overlord Hax undermined centuries of hard-fought peace in the supernatural world. He held Xiao up by the head, and swayed him left and right like a ragdoll.
"There are thousands of beings out there, just like me, who can effortlessly collapse your societies and toy with your most renowned figures. Your armies, your weapons, your knowledge—all of it is pathetically insufficient!"
Hax laughed, rubbing in humanity's weakness. He released the undead president, the body dropping to the ground and writhing comically as the armoured man stepped on Xiao's back and grinded his foot on it.
"Does this bother you? If the sight of me making a mockery of your worth as living beings pisses you off, then you should know I'm not even close to being the first offender. This wonderful world has so many dirty secrets!" No. Oh no. No. No. No. No. In the corner of her eye, she could see Sona grimace and shake her head, empathising with Rias' own reaction.
"As we speak, devils are running around your world, plucking up and enslaving human lives for their own amusement. Your children, your friends, your lovers—at any point in time, they can just disappear in a blink of an eye, and live the rest of their lives as dogs, and you wouldn't know, you wouldn't care. Because these monsters have the ability to wipe your memories away and any official traces of human existence with ease."
She wanted to protest. She knew that she had and would never treat her family, former human or otherwise, as slaves. That applied to Sona, her brother, her father and so on. But she also knew that she couldn't outright deny this man's claims—it would be disrespectful to Koneko's past. She could not be representative of the entire devil race in regards to how they treated reincarnated devils.
"And what about the angels? All you devote catholics should know, they've heard and seen your prayers. And they've done nothing. All the rotten luck that has come your way—it was entirely in their power to save you from it."
That was blatantly false. She couldn't believe that she was coming to the defence of angels, but their lack of action did not come from apathy, it because they were stretched too thin. God had died, and now the archangels could only afford to flimsily tie together the broken pieces that their creator had left behind.
But she realised that this man was not seeking to spill the truth. He was inciting rebellion against the natural order.
"So why do devils enslave humans? Why do the heavens ignore your pleas for salvation? The answer is simple: because you are only as valuable as your latent abilities dictate!" He declared, before continuing his mockery of humanity.
"Only the exceptional members of your kind have gained the attention of the supernatural world. Only the exceptional will be granted favour. But for the rest of you scrubs—the 99.9999999% of humanity—you're at the bottom of the pile, beneath even dirt!"
Where was he going with this? If this 'overlord' deluded himself into thinking he was the next saviour of humanity, he was doing himself no favours by insulting the race he was trying to shepherd.
"Now, most scrubs aren't strangers to inequality. You're already used to being beneath billionaires, celebrities and governments, or hell, even your overachieving friends. Mostly it's because you're genuinely incompetent or because you're just destined to be fodder; but sometimes, it's because you've been born under the shittiest of circumstances outside your control; sometimes, it's because you've never had a fair shake at life." For a moment, his tone seemed to go soft—as if empathy was shining through. But then Rias saw him shake, before he went into full-blown laughter.
"But you know what? I don't really give a shit. It's all noise to me. However, and this is the crux of why I have created this video, I am willing to offer all of humanity a fighting chance—not just a select few; cause whoever decided Sacred Gears, with the shitty way they're distributed, were going to be an effective means of serving humanity was an overrated dumbass!" He taunted. The angels were not going to like that at all; but it was kind of amusing that a significant chunk of the more powerful Sacred Gears weren't even in humankind's possession. The mention of this 'chance', however, caused Rias' eyes to flick to the title of the video—what was this 'gift'?
"For the former, the scrubs that are allergic to the spotlight, this chance will be meaningless for them. But if you truly are part of the latter, this chance will be your guiding light in chasing greatness. So watch closely, let me demonstrate."
Hax clapped his hands, and a blue magical portal opened up behind him.
"Beyond this portal is a [World Dungeon], it contains treasures and monsters, experience points, for you to grow stronger." He elaborated. "A world dungeon is a representation of what lies beneath this world. A world dungeon here, in the heart of China, could relate to Chinese legends or the dirty secrets of the Chinese government."
He pointed in a random direction.
"A world dungeon in America could be linked to the civil war or your infamous 'parasites', who knows."
He chuckled ominously, and then he closed his eyes. Her instincts flared. Something was about to happen; this dungeon was only a precursor.
He flew up, and so did the camera. The video now showed Hax hovering over Beijing. The peaceful, beautiful city was a distinct contrast to the flaming palace which was directly underneath Hax, the smokes still visible from his higher altitude.
"Now, again, watch closely. Ordinarily, I can only summon one dungeon. But if I do this…"
He opened his eyes—they were now the eyes of a dragon.
[Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost]
[Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost]
His mouth did not move, but she heard the ominous tell-tale spiritually. She was actually looking at the host of the Red Dragon Emperor. But where was his gauntlet?
Her panic was only further exacerbated by the appearance of more portals. They were beginning to pop up all over the city, further away from Hax, slowly spanning a greater radius around him.
No. It couldn't be.
The spiritual declaration of [Boost] was still happening, again and again. The man, the monster, was now smiling toothily.
"To those who are in the know," It was as if he was directly talking to her. "That's right. I'm going to summon [World Dungeons] all over this planet!"
He began to laugh madly. He was laughing delightedly like a lunatic as he dragged this world into chaos. Panicking, she opened up a new tab and searched on Google about the spread of dungeons.
It was true; there were already news of dungeons appearing outside Beijing. She was still hearing Hax's mad, taunting laughter on the other tab.
"How far has this spread, Sona?!"
She looked up to Sona with her eyes wide open.
"… It's already covered more than half of China, and getting worse. Some dungeons have already started appearing in the west and south—the spread there is slower, but it is happening. He's the real deal." Sona responded grimly.
Rias wanted to refute that. No one random should be this powerful—maybe, just maybe, the dungeons weren't that dangerous; perhaps this ability was quantity over quality.
But then she heard Hax's laughter stop, as he continued his explanation.
"Now let me show you a glimpse of what's potentially inside a dungeon."
She opened up the tab for the video. He was back on the ground, where the burning palace and the first portal were. He looked to the undead Xiao.
"Now, be a dear, go in, attract the attention of whatever's inside, and get out." Xiao, not remembering his position as president, saluted Hax. And then he waddled over to the portal and jumped in, leaving Hax to his camera.
"Now, I'm not cruel. This will be all new to you. So for the next seven days, I'll allow a dormancy period where there will be no risk of the contents of the dungeon spilling over into the real world. Make your peace with your lot in life. After that, any new dungeon will have a dormancy period of 24 hours, unless…"
Hax' explanation was interrupted, or perhaps it was perfectly timed, as Xiao jumped back out comically, scraping and stumbling on the ground like a cartoon character as he tried to get closer to Hax and away from the portal.
The reason for its panic—and for an undead, Xiao was acting unusually lifelike—was soon made clear.
A line of tanks soon followed.
But before they could make a spectacle, Hax directed his palm towards them and fired an energy ball, destroying them instantly.
But the aftermath of the attack was not melted steel. Instead, the destroyed tanks seemed to vanish in blue mist; only a random assortment of seemingly unrelated items was left behind.
"Of course, if someone were to enter the dungeon early, even if only accidentally, the dormancy period ends regardless. And the beings inside them will naturally gravitate to the portal on the other side and enter the real world. Some may do so immediately, some may take years to leave; it depends on what's inside."
Hax walked over to the items, and he picked up what seemed to be a pile of bills and an ingot of steel.
"However, a dungeon doesn't have to be a disaster; pretend that this is a game, defeating the beings of the dungeon will net you experience points and loot. You'll be physically stronger; you'll be potentially richer; you may even earn some powers from traversing the dungeons."
He smiled to the camera, waving the bills around.
"You understand what I'm saying, don't you? This is your chance to earn the power fantasy you've always dreamed of."
Dungeons, loot, experience points—Hax's abilities, on top of the Red Dragon Emperor's, really were game-themed. Despite her panic, a tree of possibilities was forming within her mind. She knew, she was already falling into this man's trap; and if she could be tempted, what about the billions of humans who were born with nothing special?
"However, I'm not unsympathetic to your problems. I know that a vast majority of you humans don't have the latent ability to properly tackle and grow from the ordeals of the dungeon. So I'll throw you another bone… [Modify Settings], [Limit to Humans and Beings Helpful to Humans]." She couldn't properly hear the last words he whispered, but she was also distracted by the sudden onset of the massive aura around him.
He puffed up his chest, and then he shouted.
[Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost] [Boost]
She was not the target, nothing within her changed, but she instinctually knew those words were not meaningless. They made you feel as if the world was bending to them.
"There, all you humans watching this video felt it, didn't you? The sudden illusion of invincibility, that you can achieve anything. That was me unlocking your near non-existent hidden potential and boosting it. But that feeling is only temporary, as you are now, you're still worthless, you haven't achieved anything; if you want to keep that feeling, if you want to tap into your new potential, then you'll have to play my game: defeat the [dungeons] and reap its rewards. And to all those who want to do nothing but whine like babies, you risk being left behind—and worthless cowards have no right to dictate the whims of those superior to them." He declared self-righteously.
"Now, back to my game—if you want to be a player in the supernatural world, as your great GM, it's up to me to set the rules."
A small illusion of the planet appeared in his left hand, with red dots appearing in several places across it, with the biggest dot in China. He held up a right ringer and continued talking.
"First, this is the tutorial phase of my Game. As such, the dungeons that show up will be the weakest. But as time passes, they will get stronger, not because of me, but because the world will begin to reveal its truths through them. I am not creating a problem; I am simply revealing it to you. For soon, the hidden monsters sealed beneath this earth ages past will reveal themselves again. But instead of closing my eyes and pretending they don't exist, I am giving you the means to eventually be capable of confronting them with your two hands, instead of hoping for the best."
A second finger rose up.
'Second, I will be establishing a new company, Hax Incorporated. It will be the official economic cornerstone of this Game. Any loot you receive and want to sell or trade can be done through this company; any consultations you need in regards to your future dungeon experiences can be done through its employees. Furthermore, to all my future new players, if you register with this company, you will receive starter gear and membership benefits… Ah, fuck this! I'm too lazy for this shit! My employees will do the rest of the explaining. Hey, Xiao!"
He yelled to the undead, which dumbly looked back at him.
"Congratulations, you've officially been promoted. You're my new PR manager." With Hax clicking his fingers, an intelligent light seemed to enter Xiao's eyes and his moans abruptly stopped. "I expect you to do a good job with all the exposition dumps."
Xiao saluted, with his body straighter this time, and he actually responded, "Yes, Master."
Hax looked back to the camera.
"Well, that's it. I've already done what I set out to do. Whether you believe me or not will be settled in the upcoming days. The phone number for my company is 69420. And any important shit or rule changes that come up that you need to know will be uploaded to this channel in the future. And to all the governments, supernatural or otherwise, don't bother, you aren't taking this channel or my company down."
Hax seemed to remember something, as he clicked his fingers again.
"Oh yeah, I nearly forgot! Third, every supernatural faction will eventually be jealous of the benefits you guys will receive from the dungeons. They've spent so long at the top that they're probably incapable of understanding or fathoming that their ways are no longer at the centre of the universe. They'll mock you—and the supposedly benevolent factions will lecture you out of the kindness of their hearts—for stupidly participating in this game. But when they see how much you can grow, they'll try to leech off you, or they'll actively work to sabotage you and take the dungeons for themselves."
Hax chuckled ominously, as if relishing the ideas of the social interactions he had just mentioned.
"Therefore, I have expressly modified the dungeons to prevent any supernatural factions from benefitting off their rewards, or stealing them from players outside the dungeon. If the latter were to happen, the loot will be redistributed to their accounts and the rule breakers will suffer a [Curse] or heavy debuffs. Of course, legal players will be able to steal from and kill each other in the dungeons." Hax mentioned nonchalantly.
Well, there went that idea in Rias' head. But she had doubts, there was no authority that could make powers or realms so absolute, not even God. Unless you were on the level of Ophis or Great Red or Trihexa, and this man was clearly not one of them. Perhaps this rule could be breached safely if someone powerful like her brother or Ajuka tried.
"However, I'm not that much of a party pooper. A game's more fun when more players can participate. So I'll allow exceptions. Human dungeon crawlers not already aligned with a supernatural faction will be given the authority to determine their 'parties' and who is able to receive rewards, even those that are not human—so long as this decision is made with their free will."
He pointed to the camera, a mocking smile on his lips.
"You understand what I'm saying, don't you?" Rias felt targeted again. "No memory wipes, no blackmail, no human dogs who have already sold their souls, literally or figuratively. If you non-humans want to play in this game, you're going to have beg the people you're looking down upon, understand?"
He didn't explicitly insult her or her kind. But from his tone, Rias couldn't help but feel offended. It was like he was saying she was the scum of the earth.
With that smile, he waved towards the camera.
"Well, that's all for today. If you enjoyed this video, smash the like button, press the subscribe button. And have fun playing my game; because I certainly will. See ya."
That's where the video ended.
It was abrupt. There were so many questions left unanswered.
Rias looked at Sona, who walked forward towards her seeing that she was done watching the video.
"It's a fascinating video, isn't it?" Sona simply asked. Rias scoffed, that was putting it lightly. Her emotions too jumbled to wholeheartedly agree with that. Fascinating and worrying—hell, she'd even daresay exciting, to her shame—regardless, she needed more information. But where to start?
"What do you think those three words he 'shouted' meant?" He had only implied the effects, but the implication was frightening—and potentially life-saving.
"Look to the school with your senses, Rias."
Rias did, she could see where Sona was going with this. She walked to the window, and she looked to the school, not just with her ability to see, but with her ability to detect the supernatural.
So, his words were true.
Before, there were only a few dozen 'lights' she could see. They indicated magical potential. Most of them were associated with members of her or Sona's peerage; and the lights coming from those not associated with their peerages were small, like a candle fire.
Now, those very same lights instead resembled bonfires, surrounded by a sea of candle fires. Now, a majority of the students had a hint of magical potential. And this phenomenon wasn't just confined to the school; she stretched her senses out towards the town. More and more lights were growing.
Her entire life she was used to being around infernos—namely her brother—but the fact that so many non-magicals could just so easily be given even the tiniest bits of power was equally as awe-inspiring.
Walking up next to her, Sona began explaining how she had come to know of this video.
"I was busy doing papers in my office this morning, before I suddenly felt several magical sources rise up nearby in the same school building. And then several soon became many. Not enough to pose a threat to public safety, but enough to necessitate my personal attention."
Rias looked towards and met Sona's gaze.
"Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this sudden, mysterious growth from our students happened to coincide with their viewing of this video. It seems that we can take the words of this 'Hax' at face value; those three words, in particular, were definitely related to some sort of universal boosting ability. Whether it has permanent or growing effects is yet to be seen. Perhaps it's a hidden ability of the Boosted Gear that has only just been unlocked by its latest holder; perhaps the creator of the Sacred Gears always intended for that Longinus to be used for this purpose." Sona surmised.
But that theory didn't answer another question.
"What about the dungeons? That shouldn't be related to the Red Dragon Emperor. And, based on the past users, there is a limit on how far the Longinus should boost the holder's personal abilities." With the rapidly growing scale of incidents being reported, this game-themed ability might rival or surpass—depending on future events—Annihilation Maker in terms of chaotic creations.
Sona grimaced at the mention of the dungeons.
"I don't know. We need more information. But the most important thing about them is this: we must prepare for the high possibility that one, or more, of those dungeons will appear here."
Rias nodded, prompting Sona to continue.
"Keeping in mind these 'rules', we'll get our people back home to report their findings on what can happen in the dungeons in other regions, but regardless of their reports, we have to stay on top of any situation in Kuoh. We can't let innocent citizens get dragged into this dungeon mess, simply for the sake of our curiosities, understood?" Sona sharp stare made Rias sweat a bit. It was clear what she was referring to.
Sona hadn't gotten over Rias' plan regarding Issei and the fallen angel. Her friend had tolerated it this once, just for the sake of helping her with her upcoming engagement plan, but Sona had made it clear she didn't like it, considering her responsibilities. That dislike turned harsh when Sona discovered last night that Issei's death was not justified, considering he was only worth one pawn.
Sona hadn't yet directly criticized Rias for her misjudgement, but from Sona's stare, it was clear that this issue would be something she would hold over Rias for years to come in regards to sound decision-making.
Rias felt she deserved it though; even she was mentally slapping herself for her giant error.
So she could only nod.
"Yeah, I got it."
"Good. But that also means we have to address of the issue of a majority of our city coming into contact with the supernatural. This is our territory, until videos like this are taken down, we can't resort to memory alterations. That means we may have to teach and regulate what is acceptable behaviour in regards to powers."
"We could use proxies; bring in actors from our family's hired help." Rias suggested. This was a serious matter, but at the same time, she didn't want to jeopardise her reason for coming to the human world. Sona quickly nodded, agreeing to the suggestion, because she shared that desire.
"Yes, through them, we could slowly introduce and sanitize the idea of friendly devils, and our lordship over this area. At the same time, we could use some suggestive spells to get them to more easily agree to our idea of keeping the peace and using powers responsibly. We can't risk elements growing out of our control and becoming too pow—"
And as if heaven itself had sent down lightning to punish the devils, Sona's expression of her fears regarding a human becoming too powerful was met by an ill-timed monstrous flare of energy coming from the third floor of the school building.
It was like staring at a forest fire, it just completely consumed everything else. Rias was stunned by the unexpected splendour of it.
"Rias. Rias! We have to go now! Our students could be in danger!" Sona's yell shook Rias out of her state. She stared at her friend, who was already hastily exiting the occult research building and running towards the school.
She followed suit.
Whilst they got closer, their hearts were soothed by relief. No sudden attacks or explosions had occurred; this wasn't a case where there was an accidental misfire of newly gained powers too overbearing for a beginner. That meant that they didn't have to get there through their wings, they could continue on foot.
But that allowed her to appreciate this light in front of her again. It called to her.
When they made it to the third floor, they approached the classroom where they could sense the energy signature from.
Sona opened the door, and now they could both see who was responsible for the outburst.
In the corner of the classroom, with the surrounding students also looking at him—as if they too could sense it with their newfound abilities—the source of the light was the new student.
Rias hiccupped. She would later deny it when Sona would later ask what that sound was, but to her shame, she had actually hiccupped.
It was… certainly something at first sight, she thought, as she stared at Kuoh Academy's newest student.
He was big. He was broad. He was smiling. Despite being looked at by his peers and by two of the most prominent figures in the school, he was only smiling as he continued about his business. It was a sexy smile—one born from the confidence to be comfortable in one's own world—that somehow overshone the perfect face—with the nice chiselled jaw and strong chin—it was attached to.
Her eyes roamed down his uniform—the layer unable to prevent her from knowing that a very nice set of muscles was hiding underneath it—until they reached his right hand on the table, and the active phone within it.
It seemed he had just finished watching the video she had watched.
That earlier massive spike of energy, was that his potential? It was absurd.
For now, ever so close, with her senses, it wasn't like staring at a forest fire anymore. Staring at Lex was like staring at the sun. He was already physically breath-taking, even by devil standards; but spiritually… oooohhh… she sighed hotly, mentally. Sona looked back at her concerned, but there was a hint of understanding there… did she accidentally let out that sound too?
Was this how Adam and Eve felt—this beautiful, destructive, all-consuming feeling of sinful certainty—when they couldn't resist sinning in the Garden of Eden?
And that feeling blossoming in her chest was only intensified when Lex suddenly looked towards them—at her. Those shiny green eyes seemed to inspect her, and Sona, with a great deal of amusement.
With his body turned slightly right, he placed his left elbow against his desk and rested his cheek against his left palm. His eyes flickered to his classmates and then back to them. His smile turned playful. She could feel herself biting her lip, just for an instant. Fuck.
"Well, isn't this interesting?" He joyfully said, as if the world shaking on its head was nothing.
… He knew. Where his peers had yet to be capable of noticing their strangeness—still distracted by Lex—he had already guessed that they weren't human.
He didn't seem to be concerned; in fact, he seemed to be delighted by that.
And then she knew, instinctually, that Lex would not be like Issei.
Potential was not experience—regardless of how big it was—and all newcomers to power required an awkward learning process. Even if only for a short while, there would be a period where Lex and Issei should be on the same footing. But whereas she knew Issei would be a slow learner, where she'd have to gradually accommodate him; Lex seemed naturally well-suited to it, like a fish in water.
… if she introduced this man to devils… it would be frightening how well he would fit in… She did not know this man's tendencies… this was the first time they had met, but she could tell that just by looking at him.
If she taught him magic, he would evolve rapidly.
… Perfect. How utterly perfect.
Keeping track of the student body was Sona's job, but if she had known the new student was this… exceptional, she certainly wouldn't have minded easing Sona's burden just once.
As a noble devil, she had become accustomed to meeting with powerful presences. But in this context—after the crushing disappointment of last night; with the upcoming marriage; after the possibilities opened in the earlier video—one man had never looked more radiant in her eyes. In fact, if even a shit stain were to offer the possibilities that Lex's newfound potential did, it would still look more flawless compared to the most beautiful of devils.
She had never known this fact, because she had never once been desperate until now.
Hope was beautiful.
So as she stared at Lex Lothar with hope rekindled, one thought overwhelmed the myriad of new plans forming in her mind.
I want him.
As I walked home from school, just having finished my wonderful talk with Rias and Sona in the School President's office, making sure that no one was following me, I chuckled.
My elaborate, false display had been effective in gaining their attention, and forcing them to come to me. It had only been a tiny taste, but they couldn't resist.
It was amusing how hard they were trying to tiptoe around their identities and slowly drip feed their desires to introduce me into their group/peerages. They seemed to suspect I knew, but they didn't explicitly state that they were devils, yet.
No partnership had been set in stone, but they had offered to teach me how to hone any new abilities that would appear now that I had been 'affected' by my shout. Of course, this special attention would apply to the rest of the school cohort as well, they reassured—just not nearly with the same level of intensity.
They had also warned me about entering dungeons, but their offer to teach also extended to joining me, to protect me, of course, in exploring my 'first' dungeon, as if it was a given that I would do so.
It seemed they were planning to set their own standards for how people should behave once the dungeons appeared here. They were hinging on the possibility that there were loopholes in my game; and aware that curiosity was not a force that could be stopped.
But I couldn't resist, I couldn't stop at just a chuckle. I laughed like I was watching the funniest comedy in real time. I had been holding it in for quite a while.
For my stats screen was doing some funny shit for the last few hours.
Main Class: Necromancer LVL 3
Race: Draconic God (True)
Rank: 1 Star; Young Dragon God of Chaos
[Overlord Hax, the God of Chaos] Level 1 Buff has been gained.
Overlord Hax's gift to humanity has resulted in the sudden worship of millions of people who are relishing the new powers they have gained around the world and the deterioration of civil society. As such, when Lex Lothar is acting as Overlord Hax, this buff will apply, strengthening all his skills and allowing him to slightly affect probability to result in the most chaotic of possible circumstances.
Gain more followers in this world, or others; and sow more seeds of chaos; in order to increase the effects of this buff.
Overlord Hax's Current Number of Religious Followers: 73,268,986. Updating. Updating.
Open tab to see more information on the level of worship these followers have.
The Level of Overlord Hax's Religion: unofficial cult. Updating. Updating.
Open tab to see the new religious institutions being set up around the world in Overlord Hax's name.
How interesting, I'd have to summon more servants in order to regulate this 'religion'. It could be very useful, and also problematic. The other factions would try to squash it. I smiled. All the more reason to dedicate myself to crushing them.
But there was something much more interesting. I scrolled down the notices.
100,000 followers milestone achieved
1000 subscribers milestone achieved
2500 Twitch Credits Earned
Can access Multiverse Twitch Store
I opened the Twitch Store. It sold anything you could possibly imagine.
Improved Mod Shop (100,000 Credits) (Will streamline the required assets and reduce limitations of possible mods)
Wuxia Datapack (1000 Credits) (Asset required to access the Wuxia Settings Mod)
Female Character Models of Males (All) (500 Credits) (Assets required to access the Gender Swap Mod)
Netori Master (20,000 Credits) (Skill will allow you to steal any wife, no matter your personality, the system will adjust them to find you irresistible) (1000 Extra Credits for higher immersion of adjustment so that these changes will not completely mind-break them into bimbos)
All for One (200,000 Credits) (Skill will allow you to steal any power from beings near your level)
The more powerful or useful the item was, the more expensive it was. I looked down to an item that was baffling in terms of price.
Great Red Enslaved (1,000,000,000 Credits) (Mod will allow you to freely cross dimensions and become master of a Universal-Tier being)
But that truly did mean anything—even the most terrifying of ideas—could be purchased.
My investigation into all the new popups that had been signalled to me was interrupted by the ringing alert from my phone.
Taking it out of my pocket, I saw it was a message from Ultron, who would always be connected with me so long as I had an electronic device on hand.
I smiled at the message I received from him.
"Ningguang is satisfied with your performance, Master, as if there was any doubt—the nerve of the woman. She has no complaints about continuing this partnership. However, the Chinese Gods have descended. They are investigating this matter now. You have given me orders, but to avoid your displeasure, I beg you for clarity. Am I allowed to break the Gods yet?"
I licked my lips at the thought of that woman. I knew what she wanted.
"No. That honour is for Ningguang. Assist her in this endeavour; she will be the one to land the crushing blow. And the both of us will find the use of raw power to achieve this distasteful and boring. Do it elegantly and intelligently, but with the right amount of edge. Put on a show, understood?" I spoke to the phone, which quickly replied with another text.
"Understood, Master." His presence disappeared from my phone.
I put it away and continued walking.
It was less than two days, but so much had already happened since I had reincarnated into this Gamer body.
It was good to be me.
I was already thinking of the wonderful toys I was going to play with tomorrow.
There. Hope you enjoyed. To all those who were patiently waiting for a chapter back then and didn't get it, sorry for the disappointment.
And it feels good to be writing again after two years. I'll be uploading chapters for this story every week. I've been uploading a Jujutsu Kaisen/Chainsaw Man fic on another site fairly consistently for the last month, which I'll be uploading here tomorrow, so I'm more confident now in my ability to stick to a schedule (though I may be late a day or two), despite being busy with uni and a part-time job.
Future chapters will be 5-10k words. Cya, and I hope you are interested in the fic I upload tomorrow. I've already got 5 chapters for it, which I will upload daily until the fifth chapter, after that, it's weekly as well.